Soaring property prices keeping land trusts from protecting critical Ontario habitats: conservation groups

"Some of the most valuable lands we need to protect are going to be the most expensive to protect.”

Why It Matters

Nature conservation provides habitats for threatened plants and wildlife, but rising land values are putting the brakes on conservation in some regions where it’s needed most.

In early October, Saba Ahmad got some bad news: Another party outbid her organization’s attempt to purchase and permanently conserve a 65-acre property in southern Ontario near St. Catherines. The loss disappointed the board chair and interim CEO of the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy, one of Ontario’s largest conservation land trusts. The property was purchased by an individual buyer, placing it at greater risk for redevelopment in the future, Ahmad said. Though all land is valuable, the property has particular significance — it’s in the strip of territory between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, which monarch butterflies pass over when migrating to Mexico, she said. “If it’s all paved, then you’re not going to have anywhere for them to stop.”

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